SpaceX’s Starlink has expanded its kit offerings for satellite connectivity with the addition of a new antenna and router. In September, SpaceX received permission from the Federal Communications Commission to market a new kit, which was officially unveiled on November 17th.
The new antenna, called Standard, no longer has motors for automatic orientation, a feature that remains in the Standard Actuated and High Performance versions. The third-generation router, included in the new kit, now supports Wi-Fi 6 and can connect up to 235 devices. Currently, there is no information available regarding the cost and commencement of shipments for the new antenna and router.
Meanwhile, SpaceX has launched a promotion in Italy, reducing the purchase cost of the kit from €450 to €299. The monthly subscription cost has also been lowered from €50 to €40.
The new kit features a third-generation antenna with a foldable stand, requiring manual orientation toward the portion of the sky with the best satellite connection. This operation is guided through simple instructions provided on the accompanying application, available for both Android and iOS.
The new antenna has a larger surface area compared to the previous version and stands at a height of 59.4 cm, as opposed to the 51.3 cm of the Standard Actuated antenna. The width remains the same for both versions, measuring at 30.3 cm. The field of view has increased, now covering a sky area of 110°.
Despite being fixed, the phased array antenna can track satellites by utilizing radio wave directionality. The Standard antenna’s equipment has led to a 25-watt increase in average power consumption.
For connection with the router, SpaceX has adopted the RJ45 standard, relinquishing the proprietary connector that was strongly criticized by various users. The router’s size has also increased to just under 30 centimeters from the previous model’s 18 centimeters. The new router now features two Ethernet LAN ports, which were absent in the previous versions but could be added through the use of an external connector, another point of criticism.
SpaceX has not shared specific performance specifications but they are expected to be in line with the company’s previously sold models, with download speeds reaching up to 600 Mbps in some cases.
In addition to the new Standard antenna, FCC documents mentioned another smaller, mobility-oriented antenna. It is possible that this new version will also be announced soon, likely with a dedicated subscription plan. This could be a first step toward the development of the direct to cell service, which was announced by SpaceX in October and is expected to be available in 2024.
Starlink Continues to Grow
On November 18th, SpaceX launched the largest carrier in history, the Starship, for the second time. Despite this, other teams within the company were engaged in two different launches that occurred around the same time as the departure of the colossal carrier.
With two separate missions on November 18th and 20th, SpaceX brought a total of 43 Starlink V2 Mini satellites into orbit. As of the beginning of the year, there have been 1801 satellites launched, and currently, the constellation consists of 5099 Starlink satellites in orbit, with 4500 of them operational. Of the 85 missions completed in 2023, 54 were specifically for Starlink, aimed at increasing and improving the service’s performance.
In early November, Musk announced that Starlink has achieved positive cash flow. Following this statement, speculation about a possible IPO for Starlink has resurfaced, although there are currently no official announcements.
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